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Skylights tame Cougars

MSU-N women win season-opener in the Armory Gymnasium


October 21, 2019

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Montana State University-Northern's Hailey Nicholson goes up for a shot during the Skylight's season-opening win over Mount Royal University Sunday in the Armory Gymnasium.

Before their season-opener with Mount Royal University, veteran Montana State University-Northern Skylight's head coach Chris Mouat said a team is never quite ready to start a new season.

However, after falling behind 6-0, the Skylights proved, they were ready.

Northern opened its 2019-2020 season Sunday afternoon with a 63-50 win over Mount Royal inside the Armory Gymnasium.

"Obviously, there were some first-game jitters," Mouat said. "This was not just our first game of the season, but a lot of these kids' first game as a Skylight, and our first game as this new team. So I think that showed some. But I went into this game wanting to see effort and energy and our kids brought that tonight. It was a total team effort."

It was a total team effort, as Northern shot 33 percent from the floor but forced the talented Cougars into 22 turnovers, while also winning the battle of the boards 39-34.

The Skylights did have to erase a quick 6-0 start by Mount Royal, as Sydney Hovde scored the first two points of Northern's new season. Peyton Kehr and Allix Goldhahn added big shots as well as the Skylights went up 19-12 after 10 minutes.

Mount Royal, though, proved to be a formidable first foe. And though the Skylights got a key 3-pointer from Kehr halfway through the second stanza, the Cougars pulled to within four points, 31-27 at hafltime, and then briefly took the lead early in the third quarter.

And yet, Northern wasn't going to let the Cougars spoil their home-opener. McKenzie Gunter sparked an 8-0 MSU-N run, and on her own, she accounted for nine straight MSU-N points as the Skylights took a 52-36 lead into the fourth quarter.

Mount Royal battled to the end, but Northern never let the lead get down to less than eight points en route to the 13-point win.

"Credit them (Cougars)," Mouat said. "They never quit, and they came back and took the lead on us in the third quarter. But I'm also really proud of our kids because they were able to bounce right back, and pretty much dominate that third quarter, even wtih having to deal with a little adversity there."

The Skylights used defense, rebounding and a solid performance from the free-throw-line to overcome any adversity the Cougars would throw at them. Gunter finished her MSU-N debut with a team-high 14 points, while Hovde added 10, Goldhahn scored nine, Kehr chipped in with eight and Hailey Nicholson yanked down a game-high 14 rebounds.

"I really liked our effort," Mouat said. "We saw a lot we need to work on. But our effort and our intensity was there for all 40 minutes. I thought every single one of our players brought that tonight when they were in the game.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Northern's McKenize Gunter goes up for a shot during Sunday's game against Mount Royal University in Havre. Gunter had a strong debut in the Skylight's win.

"You always want to play the perfect game," he added. "But as you saw, we were far from that tonight. So we'll use this game to learn from, to work on a little of different things going forward. But we'll also take a lot of positives from it, one being, we're excited to be 1-0."

The Skylights will be off until a Nov. 6 exhibition game at the University of Montana. Then they come home to host Vanguard and Dickinson State Nov. 7-8.

Skylights 63, Mount Royal 50

MRU - Sarah Rinsky 6, Maddison Hooper 15, Marnie Garner 5, Ella Stanley 6, Maitlynn Miller 9, Jordan Blaskin 1, Alesha Stanley 1, Maria Blanco 4, Jenika Martens 4. Totals: 20-62 4-9.

MSU-N - Hailey Nicholson 6, Sydney Hovde 10, Allix Goldhahn 9, McKenzie Gunter 14, Peyton Kehr 8, Kenya Lorton 5, Reilly Walsh 4, Tiara Gilham 7. Totals: 17-54 26-34.

3-pointers: MRU 6-25 (Garner 1, Hooper 2, Miller 1, Stanley 2), MSU-N 3-16 (Goldhahn 2, Kehr 1). Rebounds MRU 34 (Stanley 5), MSU-N 39 (Nicholson 14). Fouls: MRU 30, MSU-N 13.


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